Cube-like transport

I work in SW Ontario, some pretty rough winters, but not mountains. I’m tired of high maintenance and poor mileage on my 4WD truck.

I am looking at Honda Element, in 2 or 4 WD, the Scion xB, and the Nissan Cube as options. I am a very prudent winter driver. Which would Tom and Ray pick as the best, most reliable and economic vehicle of these choices.

While fwd with winter tires might work, I’d be inclined to go with an AWD Element in Ontario. But I’d rather go with a Forester, a bit better AWD system.

I would not bother with AWD in Southern Ontario. The only exception being if you live on a rural road in the woods, since those are not plowed right away.

A good set of witer tires is all you need. The weather in SW Ontario is much milder than the infamous weather in some New England states. Huge quantities of salt are used because of the Highways Department “bare pavement” policy; it means adding salt until the pavement is bare.

If you are tired of high maintenance and poor gas mileage, you are ready for something more sensible. I would pick a Toyota Matrix, which has tons of interior space, with the backseat down,for large items. It has a frugal 4 cylinder engine and an enviable reliability record. It is also many thousands of dollars cheaper than the Honda Element.

The recent hideous weather around the Great Lakes is unusual, with all manner of SUVs and commercial vehicles stranded as well.

I’d avoid the cube design, which is high and narrow. In the snow you want wide and low, at least front wheel drive, and better, AWD. Look at a four wheel drive cross over.

Do you need the vehicle for work, or just to get you to work?
If you need the vehicle for work, then the Element is probably the best of the bunch for payload capacity, and interior room.

If you just need to get to work, then its a matter of you test driving all of them to see which one has the best snow traction with their stock A/S tires, and then replace those tires with decent Winter Tires to be able to be legal on the roads in Canada during the winter.